One Acorn, Two Acorns, Three Acorns, Four…

By lying on your back under an oak tree, you can look up and estimate its number of acorns. But why? “A lot of state wildlife agencies do acorn surveys annually because hunters want to know crop sizes, which fluctuate like crazy from year to year, among different oak species, and among locations,” says USDA…  More 

Which Comes First, the Acorn or the Tree?

Acorns feed birds, bears, deer, and many small mammals. But the big oak trees that produce those acorns are also harvested to become timber. In managing hardwood forests, there’s a potential trade-off between harvesting oak trees for their valuable wood and reducing the number of oak trees left to produce acorns. To help determine a…  More 

Forests for Bats

“Almost all North American bats rely on forests for survival,” says Roger Perry, USDA Forest Service research wildlife biologist. Perry recently led the team that updated Forest Management and Bats, a booklet designed for private landowners and anyone managing forests. It was first published in 2006 by Bat Conservation International, and Daniel Taylor of BCI…  More 

Collaborative Research on the Future of Wild Turkeys

For more than a decade, wild turkey populations across the southeastern United States have been in decline – in terms of both production/recruitment and overall numbers, all while the number of people hunting turkeys has been increasing. The Wild Turkey Reproductive Ecology research project is an effort to better understand the population dynamics of wild…  More 

Mechanical Fuel Reduction Costs

Mitigating wildfire risk is a land management priority across the U.S. Reducing fuel loads through mechanical treatments can control understory and midstory vegetation and prevent fuel ladders that can spread fire from ground vegetation up into the canopy crown. A book chapter by USDA Forest Service scientists Dana Mitchell and Mathew Smidt summarizes costs, benefits,…  More 

Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides for Land Managers

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of hurricanes. Southern forest, farm, and ranch landowners need to better prepare and plan for hurricane impacts. The USDA Southeast Climate Hub surveyed hurricane preparedness and recovery resources and identified a need for centralized guidance that is complete and consistent. The Hub teamed up with university extension…  More 

Silviculture for Open Forests

Grassy oak savannas and sunny pine woodlands were once a common sight across the eastern U.S. These open forests have fewer large trees in the overstory and a bounty of native grasses and flowering plants in the understory. Frequent fire limited tree regrowth and created the open canopy. USDA Forest Service scientist Don Bragg and…  More 

How Do Weather, Insects, and Diseases Impact Forests? It Depends

Forests of the southern U.S. are among the most productive and intensively managed in the world. Disturbances naturally alter forest stands, sometimes creating conditions that benefit plant or animal communities, but can cause major economic losses to landowners. What’s more, the impacts from one disturbance may invite other disturbances – dead and damaged trees can…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More 

New Science Synthesis on Soils and Soil Management

We don’t often think about what’s underneath our feet, but soils are essential for the food we eat, building materials for our homes, the clean water we drink, storing carbon and mitigating climate change, even the air we breathe. Our health and well-being depend on healthy soils. It may be time to take a closer…  More